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Overview


The Sunday Evening Forum (SEF) is an Adult Education program of the Burlington Baptist Church (BBC) that is offered to the community at large. The Forum (initiated in 2003) features speakers and films that are relevant, timely, engaging, and that deal with current issues. Our topics of interest include religion, social justice, social planning, spirituality, ethics, philosophy, international affairs, science, and other areas - all of which may impinge on the faith development and practice of adults.

Our themes to date have included:



We have hosted such speakers as Stephen Lewis, Linda McQuaig, James Loney,  Mary Jo Leddy and  Thomas Homer-Dixon.

Program Formats


Each Forum is presented in one of two formats: a speaker program or a film program.

The speaker program involves a 50 minute presentation by the speaker, followed by about 30 minutes for questions and discussion. An informal discussion with refreshments follows.

The film program is run by a facilitator who is engaged to introduce a film (usually a documentary) and lead a discussion after the audience has viewed the film. An informal discussion with refreshments follows

Forum Planning Committee


The Forum Planning Committee consists of a group of volunteers who meet monthly to discuss areas of interest. Once areas of interest are identified, the committee seeks out qualified persons to provide leadership in the programs to be presented. On occasion, and as resources allow, persons with a high public profile are engaged to provide leadership


Operation

Because the SEF operates on a cost-recovery basis, a small admission fee is charged to cover costs and so as not to deter potential attendees. As a consequence, the Forum normally is able to offer an honorarium ($100) plus travel expenses to guest speakers. However, in those circumstances where the speaker has a higher appearance fee, a higher admission fee is charged. Where speakers have published books, a local bookstore is invited to exhibit and sell the authors’ books, and the Forum becomes a venue to promote their books

Audience


The Sunday Evening Forum draws a very mixed audience. Many come from BBC, neighbouring churches, churches in other communities, and the community at large.

Depending on the topic of the evening, the make-up and size of the audience can vary considerably. Attendance figures tend to range from 35 to 150 people. A special event such as the fundraiser for the Stephen Lewis Foundation (with Stephen Lewis the guest speaker) attracted a capacity audience of 360.

The group on any evening ranges in age from young adults to seniors, with a preponderance in the older age categories. Educational levels range from secondary school (the minority) to post-secondary education in a variety of fields (the majority).

Forum participants have indicated that they prefer presentations that are comprehensible to non-specialists, practical (where appropriate), and at an educational level below university graduation.

Participation in the question period following the presentation is always robust, with some complaints that the discussion time is too short. The Forum Planning Committee attempts to keep the proceedings of the evening to a 2 hour time limit, recognizing that many in the audience have to work the next day.



Evaluation


At the conclusion of each Forum, attendees are requested to complete a short evaluation form. The collated information from the evaluation forms is much valued and used by the Forum Committee to plan future programs. The presenter for the evening is given a summary of the feedback.

April 2008